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Risk Factors of Behavior

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Risk Factors of Behavior
Ausha Johnson
ECE 201: Intro to Early Childhood Behavior Management
Instructor: Carmen Balgobin
October 13, 2013

Risk Factors of Behavior
When the question is asked, “Why are some children more challenging than others”, many assumptions can come to mind such as: different age range, difference in the raising/parenting, and I have even heard people say that some children are just “bad”. People make these assumptions and don’t even know the true history of the child and what the child has been through or currently going through; I have been one of these people myself. It’s important to know that something seriously could be wrong with our children rather in development issues or home based issues. In this paper I will be discussing different risk factors and how they can influence a child’s behavior; I will also enlighten you on how you as well as other teachers, and parents can help change these behaviors.
Risk Factors Educators and parents must be able to identify risk factors in order to be able to successfully understand and help a child in need. There are many factors that should be known about such as: Poverty, Violence, and problem with brain function (Development). * Poverty- Child poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon and can be measured in many ways. It is imperative that governments make a commitment to child poverty reduction, recognizing and responding to child poverty is the first priority, alongside building expertise and improved approaches to child poverty measurement. Understanding child poverty to the fullest possible extent is vital. While an adult may fall into poverty temporarily, falling into poverty in childhood can last a lifetime – rarely does a child get a second chance at an education or a healthy start in life. As such, child poverty threatens not only the individual child, but is likely to be passed on to future generations, entrenching and even exacerbating inequality in society (UNICEF, 2013). * Violence- A child’s violent behaviors can consist of things such as hitting, biting, scratching, screaming, hair-pulling, choking and throwing objects. A child’s violent behavior can also be the reaction to violence that is shown toward them from their home, neighborhood, and TV (, 2013). * Development- Many development issues can be classified into psychosocial disorders, habit disorders, anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior and sleeping problems. These problems can occur at any time of a child’s life. Most severe behavior problems are found when a child has disabilities such as: Autism, ADD, ADHD, and Down Syndrome (Patient, 2013).
All of these risk factors have a way of influencing behavior in a child rather good or bad. Take for instance poverty; “poverty has an impact on children’s lives, development, and behavior. Low-income families may experience higher levels of stress; stress has been found to negatively impact children’s development and behavior” (, 2013). Second to poverty comes violence; children encounter violence in their daily lives through television news, cartoons, sports, and games. Many children encounter violence in their family or neighborhoods. Research states that “when children are directly exposed to violence their perspective of the world and their values may change. The presence of violence in children’s lives can have a major affect on their ability to learn, establish relationships with others, and cope with stress” (Kaiser & Rasminsky, 2007, p. 35). Lastly, the risk factor of problems with the brain function (development) is most important to watch for. Development issues can cause language, memory and attention problems. Children who exhibit challenging behaviors may have a brain problem with their executive functions that influence the child’s ability to complete goal directed behaviors (, 2013). Executive functions include: * Planning and organizing behavior * Anticipating problems and strategies to handle them * Maintaining attention and concentration * Flexible attitudes that allow changing from one mind-set to another * Self-Monitoring * Considering or taking the perspective of another person
When an educator and parent is wise of the risk factors, know how to identify them, and knows the impact it plays on the child’s life and well being, they will be able to handle the situations that may come better. Most experienced parents and teachers are educated in being supportive and resilient to a child’s needs and issues. But there are some people who are clueless as to what do in these dire situations.
What can we do? As teachers and parents we must know how to handle our children and students needs and situations carefully. There are many different strategies that can be implemented in the home as well as the classroom for behavior problems and development issues such as: changing the classroom and home environment, set scheduling, increase choice making, curricular adaptations, appreciate and reward positive behavior. Mind you, these are not all strategies; just a few to give you a start…
Changing the environment- Teachers can remove or modify environmental conditions within their classrooms that trigger challenging behaviors in a number of ways such as: loud noises and traffic areas. This is especially important for children with Autism and ADHD (, 2013). Set schedule- Create a routine daily schedule and make sure that students are aware of it.
“Middle or high school teachers may find a student version of a "weekly planner" useful in increasing predictability and appropriate behavior; elementary teachers may post their schedule prominently in their classroom. Prompting students to refer to their schedule and previewing what is about to happen at numerous times throughout the day is also important. Teachers can use these previews to clearly specify criteria and outcomes for activities. When students know what to do and when to do it, challenging behaviors are less likely to occur” (, 2013). Choice making- Providing students with challenging behavior with opportunities to make choices is another way of teaching them that they can influence others without having to resort to challenging behavior. Providing choice does not mean allowing students to control situations in which they pose a danger to themselves or others. Nor does it mean allowing them to do anything that they want to do. It does mean permitting students to make choices as part of an approach aimed at increasing student's inclusion, productivity, and independence. “By empowering students to make choices, teachers can help lessen student feelings of powerlessness. Teachers, parents, and students together can create a list of choices, but the student, whenever possible, makes the final selection” (, 2013). Adaptations-“Curricular adaptations are modifications made to enhance a student's performance in completing activities and to reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviors” (, 2013). These types of modifications go a long way in helping children with disabilities and social skills. Appreciating/Rewarding- Ideally, students will do the "right" thing in the "right" way with the "right" attitude. Actually, that's just how it is for a lot of people. They don't need to be encouraged with constant praise, trinkets, or future promises. Their reward is the activity or behavior itself. However, many students don't have the social, learning, or behavioral skills that will help them thrive in the classroom or community. “Positive reinforcement teaches a person to act in a certain way by rewarding that person for correct behavior. The theory is that if someone gets a reward for an action, then that person is more likely to do that action again” (, 2013).
If we take these strategies along with many others that are not mentioned, we can not only be better parents and teachers, but we can change the dynamic of how our children are being educated and developing.
When I started to write this paper, I felt like I already knew what I was going to say because I felt that I was experienced enough. In my writing, not only did I help the reader but I have also taught myself. Being an educator, I know that children come from varies backgrounds and many different situations as to why they behave the way they do. It could be from poverty, violence and abuse, and most importantly, developmental issues. I have to look at behavior differently and more carefully now a day’s not only being I am a teacher but because I am a parent of an Autistic child. So in my research of the strategies to help children of needs, I was able to not only inform you but also inform myself on how to be more supportive. I hope that you take the information that I have given you, and use it to the best of your ability in education as I will do the same!

Unicef. (2013). Child Poverty and Disparities. Retrieved from:
Yale Parenting Center. (2013). Violence. Retrieved from:
Patient. (2013). Common Behavioral Problems in Children. Retrieved from:
Arizona Child Care Association. (2013). Environmental factors that impact children’s behavior include: Poverty and Violence. Retrieved from:
Kaiser, B., & Rasminsky, J. S. (2007). Environmental Risk Factors that Affect Children’s Behavior, Challenging behavior in young children, p. 32-40. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Retrieved from:
Calpoly. (2013). Positive behavioral support: Strategies for teachers. Retrieved from:

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